The PRWIRE Press Releases https:// 2021-06-24T06:19:11Z Are our leaders up to the challenge? 2021-06-24T06:19:11Z are-our-leaders-up-to-the-challenge   Recently, I had a conversation with a friend, who said: "This is crazy! Everyone around me is either renovating or getting a divorce, looking for a new job, or a new career path. And this is even before considering the unsettling macro issues in the Australian society and globally!". It seems that the COVID lock-down took people out of balance and that new habits and resolutions emerged. People are looking for a change- personal and societal change. The question is, are our leaders up to the challenge?   We are all familiar with the current situation: the COVID vaccinations are not on target, misogynism and violence towards women are part of the norm, the death of indigenous people in custody is just one of the symptoms of how we treat indigenous communities, the economic recovery is threatened by closing the borders between the states, and we can go on and on and on.  The point is that, yes, Australia is currently is in a better position than many other countries around the world, but with silos, it might not last. Leaders need to pick up the game, look for our society's long-term health, and work together on this adaptive challenge. They need to embrace a different framework for problem-solving.   And they can find the answer within the Adaptive Leadership framework. Studying at Harvard University, we learned the difference between technical and adaptive challenges. Technical problems are those where there is already expert knowledge on how to solve them. Adaptive challenges, on the other hand,  are more complex; their novelty requires the building of new capacity and restoring of trust. They involve sub-groups and conflicting values. They require efforts, attention and collaboration, because they are complex and beyond the leader's current expertise. Leaders cannot solve these problems on their own. They need to distribute the leadership across the society.   The easy way out is to ignore the adaptive challenge and provide short-term solutions that buy votes. Allocate some money here, change a policy there.  By doing so, they wrongly attempt to apply pre-existing solutions to problems that require new solutions. No one state nor one party can solve the problem.    A fundamental change can only happen if we consider the adaptive issue. The Adaptive Leadership framework guides leaders in both the private and public sectors. It calls leaders to: •           Get on the balcony and diagnose the challenge. Zoom out from the scene and look at it from a distance to receive perspective. See the big picture, detached from your emotions and personal views, pause and reflect.  Getting on the balcony will help you in framing the problem accurately. •           Consider the different perspectives of ALL the stakeholders and subgroups. Look at the collective problem, not just one agenda. Look for the competing moral/values and trade-offs of the different groups. •           Implement interventions by mobilising people to experiment on how to make progress together.   Adaptive problems and the renewal of trust require a strategic approach. On the one hand, we want to continue the great work of ensuring Australia is clear of COVID,  which increases public confidence and strengthens the economy. On the other hand, social issues require trade-offs. Sub-groups have different agendas and conflicting values and priorities. Leadership is about disappointing people at a level they can tolerate! (Professor Ronald Heifetz, Harvard Kennedy School). It is hard and puts enormous pressure on the decision-makers and requires strong collaboration across federal, state and local entities. Leaders need to implement new solutions, which means experiment with interventions we haven't tried before. Some will succeed; others might fail and require pivoting.   A new way of thinking, a more holistic view, a new way of leading are required to see us all thriving sustainably for the long term.   Healthcare sector should reach out to technology scale-ups 2021-03-09T02:45:48Z healthcare-sector-should-reach-out-to-technology-scale-ups For immediate release 9 March 2021 Healthcare sector should reach out to technology scale-ups The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the use of technology and opened opportunities for the industry, but also showed us that we need to make some critical changes.  It is now clear that the future of healthcare organisations depends on their ability to change, increase agility, and develop resilience continually. Success in the new normal means taking the opportunity to design the future of the organisational culture. And there is no better sector to learn from than technology scale-up leaders who survive and prosper in an environment requiring constant transformation.   Why scale-ups? Spending most of my career with scale-ups and joining a hospital board during COVID-19, has opened my eyes to the lessons healthcare leaders can learn from scale-ups within the innovation ecosystem.COVID-19 forced the health industry to undergo a change in a capacity it hasn’t encountered before. It is not a one-off change, but a new paradigm that compels healthcare industry leaders to question the agility and scalability of their organisations now and into the future. While immunisation research is undergoing significant progress, the pandemic is unlikely to disappear, nor be the last one. Health organisations are now required to adopt a different leadership model and develop an organisational culture that supports constant changes, agility and resilience.  During the lockdown in Melbourne hospitals and other health organisations experienced operating on the continuum that many scale-ups live in: some operations needed to scale up fast, while others were on hold. For example, there was a period with a delay of non-essential elective surgeries, while at the same time, some hospitals had to double and even triple their ICU capacity. Now, when there is a long queue for elective surgeries, there is a need to scale up these services. These activities involved training, restructuring work arrangements and procedures, overloading the system and putting immense pressure on the entire team. Scale-up leaders are used to operating in such environments. Scale-ups do not run on a  linear growth, where the company adds new resources and its revenue increases as a result. Scaling is often achieved without a substantial increase in resources. The scale is achieved by increasing service and revenue without incurring a higher cost.  Core challenges scale-ups, and the health sector share include: Technological changes - scale-ups operate in a challenging competitive landscape and constant technological changes that require regular adjustments and at the same time opens windows to new business opportunities.  The accelerated introduction of telehealth services during the pandemic, questions the traditional way health professionals are used to working, but also presented them with exciting prospects. Employee shortages- scale-ups operate in a talent shortage environment (such as lack of qualified engineers); the health and aged care sectors were also challenged by employee shortages, as well as from an ageing workforce. Both sectors have a working environment that can be highly stressful, and hence they need to deal with workforce burn-out and retention issues. Team upskilling - due to the skills shortage and the fast changes in technologies, scale-ups are in a constant need to upskill their teams. The health sector now needs to upskill their workforce with digital and technological capabilities to cater for telehealth and other technological advancements, such as artificial intelligence and automation. Organisational culture- scale-ups have a short window of opportunity, and they have to ensure they deliver before the window is closed. Producing innovative solutions on time and budget means proactively leading the organisational culture, supporting the team and communicating the “why” (mission). When employees do not buy into the company’s mission, they are often not engaged. Employees in the health sector choose their profession for the “why”, but the industry as a whole tends to pay less attention to proactively leading the organisational culture. In both sectors, when culture is a problem, employee turnover is on the rise, and customer satisfaction is suffering. Leading on the stagnation-accelerated growth continuum Scale-ups navigate their way on a growth continuum between stagnation and acceleration. They deliver services and products under constant business barriers (financial, talent, infrastructure, market access and leadership capacity) and operational constraints (changes in goals and priorities, lack of resources, team instability, ineffective structure and lack of processes).To successfully operate on this continuum, scale-up leaders must develop scalable processes and invest in their organisational culture and employee’s development. Adopting different people, culture and leadership perspectives It is fair to claim that the pandemic caught us all by surprise and unprepared. The silver lining in this crisis is that it has accelerated processes in the healthcare industry, such as the use of telehealth in a way that there is no going back. Now it is time for leaders to stop and reflect and ensure they learn from the journey and shape their organisations powerfully to the future. Now is the time for them to develop a culture that allows their organisations to change, increase agility, and build resilience continually. These are not small cosmetics, but in many cases, we are talking about significant systematic changes combining strategic thinking, culture, workforce, leadership and agile processes.  Scale-up leaders can offer their healthcare colleagues insights in regard to how to lead an organisational culture that supports constant changes and innovations; operation and how to build agility into processes when continually moving on the growth continuum between stagnation and acceleration; how to develop the leadership team to think strategically about opportunities as well as how to build high performing multidisciplinary ad-hoc teams. There is no better time than now to reflect on healthcare sector and implement the changes that need to be made. Dr Zivit Inbar is the founder and CEO of DifferenThinking, a consulting practice that specialises in people, culture, leadership and performance strategies for growth. What is the first thing that is thrown out of the window when leaders are stressed? 2020-09-07T04:16:58Z what-is-the-first-thing-that-is-thrown-out-of-the-window-when-leaders-are-stressed Thursday, 7rd September, 2020. Have you ever given a thought to what is going inside the mind of leaders when they make significant decisions that affect our lives?   If the answer to this question is ‘no’, then you may want to start thinking about it. Because the way our brain operates affects the decision making of even the most intelligent people. And more often than we think, leaders make the wrong decisions and communicate them with self-confidence and passion, leading us to believe that they are right.   Farewell the Common-sense   Decision making is difficult in the best of days. We know from evidence pre the pandemic that 70% of all business transformations fail to deliver value to shareholders and that 40% of senior hires do not last 18 months in their new roles.   Decision making in times of change and uncertainty is even more challenging.  Leaders are currently under enormous pressure to make ‘good’ decisions. But every decision they will make will be perceived as fair by some and dreadful by others. The question of what is the right thing to do and by whom can now have significant wellbeing consequences attached to it. The past six months have been tough times for everyone, including for leaders. The emotional load is draining, and the light at the end of the tunnel is still too far ahead. And this stress affects the quality of leaders’ decision making!   Last year at Harvard Kennedy School, Prof Daniel Shapiro opened his lecture by asking our class what the first thing that is thrown out of the window when we are stressed is.  The answer was ‘common sense’, our logical thinking. And there is strong scientific evidence behind this statement.   How we think - is not what we think   In every moment of our lives, our brain has so much information to deal with that we simply cannot logically and consciously analyse everything. Herbert Simon called this the Bounded Rationality. We are bounded in our rationality by our brain; we cannot multi-tasks our thinking. But what is thinking and how do we think?   We think using two systems (Kahneman): System One- is the fast, automatic, effortless and unconscious way to tackle the daily tasks. To be able to operate fast and automatically, system one is based on shortcuts and heuristics to associate new information with exiting patterns. In other words, it includes cognitive biases. System Two- is the slow, effortful and conscious logical thinking. When we learn something new, we concentrate on the learning and use system two.   When we feel confident, we use system one. Think about your first driving lessons. In the beginning, you had to concentrate and think about every movement. Then, after years on the road, you often find yourself arriving home without even recalling what happened on the way. You used system one, your automatic pilot.   So, this is how we think- what’s the problem?   First, often we are not aware of which system we are using at the moment. We make decisions and behave in a certain way without knowing what lead them (how we got to the decision), although we feel that we know what our brain is doing. We simply cannot see through our neuroscience.   Second, the real problem begins when we use system one when we need to use system two. And this occurs more often than we tend to think!   Third, there is strong evidence that the more stressed we are, the less access we have to the logical/rational part in our brain (the neocortex) that we use in system two. It’s like having a blackout in an exam, without having the awareness that this is happening to us.   And this is what every decision-maker is going through. We unconsciously use system one with its biases to make decisions, when we need to use system two and think logically. This mistake happens to everyone. If you are not biased, you are not human! This mistake frequently happens to our leaders!   Common biases leaders fall into   Many biases affect leaders in making strategic decisions and in assessing risks. I chose to focus in this article on four of them:   WYSIATY- Daniel Kahneman coined the acronym WYSIATI to explain that our brain keeps on telling us “What you see is all there is”. We judge and make decisions based on the information that is available to us. Leaders develop stories and narratives based on the information they have at hand, often without asking the question, “what information am I missing”? Leaders need to remind themselves that every report includes biases: someone decided what questions to ask, which information to collect, how to analyse the data, what conclusion to draw from the analysis, what to present and which data not to include in the report and then the recommendations are subjective as well.   Confirmation bias - is the tendency to search for, interpret, favour, and recall information that confirms or supports our prior beliefs and values. We all do that daily- for example, we consume the news from the sources that align with our views and interpret information according to our beliefs. But what if our initial idea is wrong? Great leaders encourage their teams to tell them what they don’t want to hear. It is not easy and can be confronting, but it is one of the ways to get over the confirmation bias. When you seek and thank people for their honest opinions, you get the information you need to make an informed decision. When you fall into the confirmation bias, everyone will always tell you exactly what you want to hear, because this is what you appreciate.   Dunning-Kruger Effect is the situation in which people who are unskilled at something do not recognise their incompetence and act like experts. As much as we would like to think that we are all great leaders, no individual can be great in all the leadership competencies. Hence the importance of continuously developing self-awareness and surrounding ourselves with complementary skills- building a complementary leadership team.   The risky shift - complementing leadership teams often fall into group biases. The well-known one is Group Thinking. One of the common biases, yet less spoken about, is the risky shift. This bias occurs when a leadership team agrees on a course of action that is more extreme than what they would have made if each of the team members would have taken if asked individually. This bias could explain the risky decision that the Swedish government has taken in response to the pandemic.   Achieving optimal decision-making outcomes   A chairperson of a listed company recently told me that he could see all the biases of the leadership team and coach them because he is well experienced, educated and is never biased. Well...   Einstein referred to reality as an illusion- we assume that there is 1:1 relationship between the way we perceive things and the way they are. But this is certainly not the case.  The cognitive process of thinking is always unconscious, and the procedures that we use to solve problems are often entirely opaque to us. We don’t have much insight into our thinking and behaviour and are not much better at predicting others’ actions.   Hence, no matter how high you are in the organisational hierarchy, what your education is and how well versed your convincing, influencing and rhetoric skills are- you will always have blind spots that affect your thinking. And the more stressed you are, the chances are that your thinking will increase its reliance on biases.   Real leaders shine in times of crisis; not when everything goes according to plan, and there are only small budget constraints. The pandemic brings to surface leadership and decision-making capabilities.   While we cannot see through our thinking process, awareness of the biases we tend to rely on as a group is critical. To achieve optimal decision outcomes in times of uncertainty, leaders must design a new decision-making environment. They should improve cognitive diversity, self-awareness and understanding of the specific leadership teams’ biases. There are simple tactics to use as a team to shield from biases. The first step to take is awareness!   Tips: ·      Conduct a blind spot assessment for each member of the leadership team ·      Analyse the team’s strategic and risk key biases ·      Redesign the leadership teams’ decision-making process to achieve optimal decision-making outcomes   About Dr Zivit Inbar: Dr Zivit Inbar is a graduate of Harvard Kennedy School Leadership Decision Making Executive Program. She works with boards and executives from the public and private sectors on understanding their personal and team biases and optimising decision-making processes.   Note to the editor: DifferenThinking™ is a boutique consulting firm specialising in strategic teams, culture, leadership, ethics, innovation and decision making services. At DifferenThinking we are focused on reducing risks and increasing growth by unlocking the potential of your people, culture and innovation capabilities. In times of such uncertainty, failing to transform and develop these aspects of your organisation could have a significant impact on your bottom line.   Issued by DifferenThinking: www.differenthinking.com.au   Dr. Zivit Inbar: +61 (0)400 355 210, zivit@differenthinking.com.au   Why this is the best time to invest in leadership skills 2020-07-31T02:04:20Z why-this-is-the-best-time-to-invest-in-leadership-skills   Media release Why this is the best time to invest in leadership skills Friday, July 31, 2020. When I started writing this article, I referred to the Post-COVID era. But now it seems that COVID is here to stay for at least one more year and become the ‘new normal’. Our generation (including our leaders) has never encountered such levels of combined health-economical-geopolitical-societal-personal uncertainty. For businesses, this means uncertainty in the future and a new set of risks to mitigate and lead. Does your organisation have the skills to manage them successfully? Our generation has not experienced global uncertainty, changes and instability at such extreme levels like those that we are currently undergoing in light of the pandemic. For many businesses, strong leadership is key to surviving and growing post-COVID. Working with executive teams and boards of directors for over 20 years, I believe that many leaders will need to lift their game. If they want to lead their organisations successfully, they need to strengthen their self-awareness and proactively develop new skills. The pandemic is a transformative global phenomenon, requiring leaders to think and lead differently. With everything that is happening simultaneously on the many fronts of this crisis (health, economic, societal and geopolitical) it is hard to understand, predict and plan the business future. The World Economic Forum reports that Reuters’ poll of more than 50 economists asking for their predictions for economic recovery after the coronavirus, found a variety of forecasts from shrinking by 6%, to growing by 0.7%.   This level of uncertainty means that boards and executive teams are operating at an extremely high personal risk while making tough decisions that could affect people’s lives: •    Boards- Board members have personal liability for the organisation, which is quite frightening when thinking of situations when boards don’t have full visibility and understanding of what is going on in the company- the organisational culture and ethics. With employees working from home, culture and ethics become even more challenging to lead, manage and govern. Without an in-depth knowledge of what is happening, the quality of the board’s decision making is potentially affected, which enhances the personal risk. Also, the new manslaughter laws that came into effect this month, could mean that boards would also be considered liable for coronavirus workplace infections. However, if directors are not on the floor- can they have certainty as to how the new policies are implemented and acted? •   CEOs- Pre the pandemic, some CEOs managed to lead their organisations without having a strong leadership team to support them. Leading alone or with limited support in these days is not only a competitive disadvantage but also a personal and mental health risk. •   Leadership Teams- Companies that suffer from low levels of collaboration between teams and agility, might find it impossible to pivot, change and survive.   We all know that leadership and culture are more important in times of crisis than during smooth sailing periods. In a crisis, leaders must be competent not only in their respective areas of expertise but also in essential skills such as ethical leadership, unbiased decision making, leading organisational culture and building high performing teams. These are only a few examples of crucial leadership skills that I refer to as managerial infrastructure. How would businesses survive without a proper infrastructure in place? Hence, although it sounds counter logical, this is the time to invest in the leadership team! In times of crisis, we jump into the easy solution of cutting the ‘fat’- but are leadership capabilities really ‘fat’? If you make the wrong strategic decisions, how far would you get? If you restructure the organisation and lose your top talent, where would that lead you? If your leadership is failing to empower and engage the team- how would you be able to innovate? If your decisions are perceived as unethical by crucial stakeholders- how would you keep your customers? The cost of not investing in leadership skills is much higher than the relatively low price of investing in these critical skills. While organisations that cut their leadership support and training due to COVID-19 might seem to be acting logically, in actual fact, they are reducing the chances of future organisational growth and long term survival. Some may argue that it is unethical to invest in leadership skills while we have to cut the headcount. This is a fair argument; however, the cost of leadership training is often a lot less than the yearly salary of an employee. There is no trade-in here; it is not that if you cut this cost, you will be able to keep another employee at work. It is about analysing the current strengths and areas for development and ensuring complementary leadership skills are in place. It is about ensuring the long-term survival of the organisation, which benefits the company’s core stakeholders, including its employees and their families, and the community at large. By now, we all realise that the concept of ‘change is the new normal’ that was commonly used pre-COVID referred to lower levels of uncertainty and change than what we are currently experiencing. The pandemic presents a new ‘normal’- one that is harder to grasp since our generation hasn’t had to deal with a similar level of uncertainty. Now, more than ever, we need strong leadership teams to guide organisational success. A one-person show won’t prevail- we need to build strong complementary leadership skills and ensure our leaders are highly competent in people, culture, ethics and decision-making skills. Now is the time to invest in current and future leaders to ensure organisations survive and advance opportunities in the market! Some tips Dr Inbar offers for CEOs and Boards to reflect on during these times: •    Risks- assess the new set of threats that the organisation is facing. •    Capabilities- does your organisation have all the necessary skills and competencies to manage the new business reality- risks and opportunities? Identify the core leadership team’s capabilities and gaps. •    Leadership team- three crucial areas to consider: 1) the strength of the leadership team (is it a high performing and collaborative leadership team?), 2) the complementary soft skills of the team, and 3) the effectiveness of current decision- making processes- are they shielded from biases and negative dynamics (such as group thinking or unbalanced influence of specific individuals)? •   Organisational culture- now, more than ever, the example and leadership of culture and ethics are crucial. What is the strong DNA of the organisation and what cultural characteristics can hold the organisation from changing, pivoting and moving forward? •    Return on Investment- in crisis, when the budget is tight, what is it that needs to be strengthened to ensure the organisation not only survives but also advances opportunities in the market? Focus the leadership training in these areas. Note  to  the  editor: DifferenThinking™ is a boutique consulting firm specialising in strategic teams, culture, leadership, ethics, innovation and decision making services. At DifferenThinking we are focused on reducing risks and increasing growth by unlocking the potential of your people, culture and innovation capabilities. In times of such uncertainty, failing to transform and develop these aspects of your organisation could have a significant impact on your bottom line. Issued by DifferenThinking: www.differenthinking.com.au Dr. Zivit Inbar: +61 (0)400 355 210, zivit@differenthinking.com.au